Wash. Legislature passes budget proposal

Washington Senate approves revisions to police use of force initiative

The Washington state Legislature has adjourned a double overtime session, finalizing a budget deal that had lawmakers working all night.

The Senate passed the measure on a 44-2 bipartisan vote and it now goes to the governor for her signature. The House earlier passed the negotiated agreement on a 64-34 vote. Lawmakers worked through the early morning hours passing several bills before taking up the budget.

Gov. Chris Gregoire called lawmakers immediately back into a second special session at midnight after they failed to complete their work by the end of the first 30-day special session.

Gov. Chris Gregoire this morning issued the following statement on the budget agreement reached by the Legislature, as well as the end of the special session:

“I’m pleased the Legislature reached an agreement this morning to solve our budget shortfall. The supplemental budget passed preserves critical programs, including education, and sets our state on a more sustainable path.

“Reaching this point wasn’t easy. And it couldn’t have been. Given that we’ve already cut $10.5 billion from our state budget over the past three years, making any more reductions while preserving what’s left of our safety net was a daunting task. Acknowledging the difficult challenge our lawmakers faced, I commend them for coming together to balance our budget and agree to important government reforms. Additionally, lawmakers approved a significant capital budget that will improve our infrastructure while supporting 18,000 jobs.

“The past two days of significant work and compromise with lawmakers from both chambers, on both sides of the aisle show what is possible when we work together.

“And the challenges posed during the last 30 days shouldn’t overshadow the incredible accomplishments achieved during the regular session. Washington state became the 7th in the nation to pass a marriage equality bill, we made great strides in education reform, and we took action to improve our state’s competiveness in the global aerospace industry.

“Our job isn’t done. Implementing this supplemental budget won’t be easy, but I’m confident we’ve developed a solution that protects our state’s financial future while preserving critical programs that Washingtonians rely on.”

The flurry of activity over the past two days was the culmination of months of negotiations over how to close a roughly half-billion dollar shortfall for the two-year budget cycle ending June 2013.